The below post was originally published in Catholic Stand on December 18, 2016.
Who's Your Patron Saint of 2017?
As the new year approaches, you may be in a rush to set resolutions for working toward material self-betterment. The usual goals include weight loss, career or educational advancement, taking more vacations, and so on.
Have you considered, instead, setting a spiritual resolution? Imagine how much deeper those material resolutions can become when complemented by active work on your spiritual health.
One fun way to set spiritual resolutions is to make a goal to live like the saints, specifically by choosing one as your patron for the year. Most people have their favorite saints already, including the one chosen for a Confirmation name, the namesake of a home parish, a holy site once visited, or a devotion passed down from Grandma. These familiar saintly “friends” accompany us through life. This year, I encourage you to identify a new saint, one who may be unfamiliar (or even challenging) for you, and claim this new friend as your patron in 2017.
How Do I Choose?
The first way to select a patron is by making a random selection. This method is not the easy way out; it just means relying on the Holy Spirit to guide your choice. This includes using the Saint’s Name Generatoror checking out the Saint of the Day when you’re ready. You could even open up a liturgical calendar to a random date and let the selection fall where it may. Even though this is a less structured way to choose, it is important to pray first that you will meet a saint whose life has example for yours. You are completely relying on God – and perhaps the intervention of the saints themselves – to guide your choice. It is a great exercise in faith and obedience.
Thinking About Virtue
For those seeking a more structured approach, start with the virtues and traits you are looking to emulate. Here’s a list to get you started:
- True vocation
- Sense of humor
Whatever area of your life you’re focused on, there’s a saint who’s got you covered.
Choose Saint Philip Neri if you need to loosen up a little. St. Pope John Paul II understands your desire to deepen your relationship with the Blessed Mother. St. Blaise is there if you need to find your voice. Look toSt. Anne for a lesson in patient waiting.
Remember, too, that even the “great” saints, or the ones we think we know, have multiple dimensions. Newly-canonized Mother Theresa of Calcutta is the obvious choice if you want to grow your sense of charity. Yet at the same time, she can be seen as a patron of those in the “spiritual desert,” feeling separated from God, as she experienced for the majority of her life. In her own words: “If I ever become a saint, I will surely be one of darkness.”
If you can identify the virtue or trait you wish to see more of in your own life, search for the saint whose example will show the way.
What Happens Next?
Once your saint is chosen, learn as much as you can about them and begin to apply his or her virtues and traits in your own life. You will even end up learning things about your new friend, and be able to welcome those characteristics into your life, too. Learn to turn to your saint in times of both trouble and happiness, through prayer and conversation. Most importantly, always remember to give thanks to God for the messengers He has provided in your own quest for holiness.
Who Did You Choose?
Please leave your chosen patron in the comments – I’d love to hear how your selection goes! By the way, my 2017 patron is Saint Homobonus. Aside from having an unusual name (it actually means “good man” in Latin), he was a successful businessman who used his income for good, specifically to alleviate poverty. His way of life is a great reminder to never forget that, even when we find material and professional success, real success is found in serving others.
We are all called to become saints by living holy lives, becoming as close to God as possible. Luckily, the Church has given us countless examples to emulate in this quest for holiness, and the saints, that “great cloud of witnesses,” are among the best spiritual friends you can have.